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Sarah Wallenfelsz at the conference

While presenting at the 11th annual Phi Sigma Alpha Student Research Conference, Sarah Wallenfelsz ’24 (Granville, Ohio) appreciated the feedback she received from expert panelists.

But it was nothing compared to the daily evaluations she receives from Marietta College’s Political Science faculty.

“I can’t get that anywhere else,” Wallenfelsz said. “The support I received doing this capstone project was amazing. Throughout the process, the entire Political Science Department faculty helped me. They let me bounce ideas off of them and they helped me see things from a different perspective. The help I got is unique to Marietta.”

Wallenfelsz wanted to blend her majors — Political Science and Finance — into her capstone project. She presented “The Relationship Between Regime Characteristics and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),” at the Washington, D.C. conference in February.

“It was the perfect blend between the two majors, and I wanted a more international topic. I also wanted to focus on a current issue,” she said. “I was very motivated by the topic, and I love the research component. I wanted to tie multinational corporations’ investments in other countries and why they picked that country. I also looked at how China factored into it, as this proved to be an outlier in my research.”

Wallenfelsz completed the project during the Fall 2023 semester, but worked closely with Dr. Michael Morgan, Chair of the Political Science Department, to fine-tune her project and presentation.

“Throughout the process, Dr. Morgan was very helpful and encouraging,” said Wallenfelsz, who studied abroad last summer as part of the Cambridge (United Kingdom) Program. “Near the end, he brought in Dr. (Mark) Schaefer so I could bounce ideas off of him; and (retired Professor Dr. Mike Tager) came back and helped. Both of them gave me some good suggestions to think about. Their support was amazing. There are not many other majors that conduct this type of research. It’s not easy, and the faculty push you hard and hold you accountable. But they are also fair and help you reach your potential.”

Dr. Morgan was impressed with Wallenfelsz's commitment to the capstone project.

“Sarah took a very thoughtful approach to selecting a research topic for her capstone project that would tie her majors (Political Science and Finance) together,” said Morgan, who is a McCoy Associate Professor. “As a result, her project investigated the relationship between a country’s political regime and its ability to attract foreign direct investment. Sarah did an excellent job developing a theoretical argument and implementing a multivariate linear regression model, both of which allowed her to stand out among her peers and become a prime candidate to present her work to a larger audience.”

Wallenfelsz is also a great example of how a small, liberal arts college can help a student find their true calling. Originally a Public Accounting major, Wallenfelsz discovered early in her studies at Marietta that she had a passion for Political Science and felt matching that with a Finance degree was the best path.

“My Marietta experience is exactly what I was hoping to have,” said Wallenfelsz, who completed an internship at Hendrickson Manufacturing in the finance and accounting department. “I am currently looking for a job, and I want to find something that allows me to tap into both political science and finance.”

Her experience is a testament to Marietta’s commitment to fostering well-rounded graduates who are knowledgeable in their chosen fields and equipped to tackle real-world challenges with creativity and confidence.